The TSA Wants To Know Your Birthday, But Doesn't Plan On Sending A Gift

The TSA wants to know your birthday and if you are a boy or a girl, says USAToday. Apparently, they’ve been tagging too many of our fine citizens are terrorists and need more information in order to help with their “background checks.”

The airlines and, well, pretty much everyone else, thinks this is an invasion of privacy and that the TSA has enough to worry about without keeping track of everyone’s birthday.

The Air Transport Association, a trade group of major U.S. airlines, the American Society of Travel Agents and Continental and Virgin airlines also opposed, in writing, the TSA asking for travelers’ birth dates and genders. Opposition is not as strong for soliciting full names.

TSA is seeking more personal information as part of a long-delayed plan to improve preflight background checks of the 700 million people who fly commercially each year in the USA.

The plan centers on transferring the task of checking passenger backgrounds from airlines to the TSA. The transfer is required by a law enacted in 2004 and was urged by the 9/11 Commission that year.

The commission said the TSA can do a better job because it can check passengers against the complete government terrorist watch lists instead of partial lists used by airlines. The TSA expects to take over background checks next year, though many airlines said the agency’s plans don’t give them enough time to change their reservation systems and enable the switch.

Under a TSA proposal published in August, airlines and travel agents would be required to ask people reserving flights for their birth date, gender and full name. Travelers, however, would not be required to give the new information.

People who don’t comply could be more easily mistaken for a terrorist and “may be more likely to experience delays, be subjected to additional screening (or) be denied transport,” the TSA wrote.

Oh yes, we do like the direction this is headed.

TSA plan to gather more data protested [USAToday]
(Photo:DevWalla)

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  1. UpsetPanda says:

    How does knowing birthday and gender give indication of whether one is a terrorist? It’s like attributing shoe size and height to terrorist activity. Only people 6’1 and above need apply?

  2. whirlybird says:

    I think it probably allows them to better match names against a list. There might be several “Terry Smith”s, but not with the same age and gender.

  3. Veeber says:

    I would think that it would be easier to distinguish one John Smith from another, or whatever the terrorist equivalent of John Smith is.

  4. shiny says:

    I have a niece who was born during the week of 9/11 I have a friend whose 29th birthday was on September 11, 2001. I wonder if they’ll be flagged in some way…

  5. Quellman says:

    @CaffeinatedSquint: If the terrorist is known to have an age of 30-35- and your name matches but you are 23, you won’t be flagged based on age. Grandpa either.

    As for gender… they want to know if it is worth their time frisking that attractive blonde or if she has a third leg.

  6. Amelie says:

    Actually this is pretty moot since they have it from your passport for all international flights. They could also get it from the driver’s license that you show as ID. Practically everything our government does is an invasion of privacy – but as there’s no concerted effort by the people or our elected officials to stop it, it will continue. And the airlines are simply playing a game. It’s either good PR or too much work. They could give a damn about their customer’s privacy.

    @Chris Vee: As if these lists are anything more than “security theater.”

  7. axiomatic says:

    Hey TSA, die in a fire please. You are the reason the airlines don’t get my money anymore.

    Sticking it to TSA and instead of flying I’m exploring my home state = Priceless.

  8. VA_White says:

    The TSA is the most ridiculous, illogical, and ineffective gov’t entity that ever existed. I hate them a burning intensity almost beyond measure.

  9. ptkdude says:

    so, do I give them my real birthday or my fake internet “yes I’m over the age of 13″ birthdate?

  10. Black Bellamy says:

    Pssst! All the terrorists are born in April! Pass it on.

  11. kastickboy says:

    Quote TSA – Under a TSA proposal published in August, airlines and travel agents would be required to ask people reserving flights for their birth date, gender and full name. Travelers, however, would not be required to give the new information.

    So how does this stop terrorist A from having non-terrorist friend book flight for said terrorist? Pfft, how we have such idiotic people in high positions of power, ill never know.

    Also, why would they need this for either Domestic or International Flights is beyond me. International you have a Passport (Gov issued) and what does it matter if im flying domestically?

    This is all a steaming pile of shit. Second AXIOMATICs plea to the TSA.

  12. ptkdude says:

    Why don’t they just have a question that asks “Are you a terrorist?”? Of course, answering that question will be completely voluntary.

    • Bob says:

      And by “completely voluntary” TSA means “you could either comply to every one of our whims or simply never fly again”.

  13. Jozef says:

    @ptkdude: Actually, the US government does ask that question when applying for an entry visa. Questions include gems like “Are you traveling to the US with the intent to commit terrorist acts against the people or property” and “Are you traveling to the US for the purpose of smuggling drugs into the country” (paraphrased). After about 10 such questions, you are relieved to see “A Yes answer does not mean automatic visa rejection. However, if you answered Yes on any of the questions, please explain on a separate sheet of paper.” I think, recently they charged the wording of the last piece, though: instead of explaining in writing, you’re supposed to meet with an embassy employee. I guess they were running short of literate people…

  14. Chune says:

    @Jozef: I think it’s less that they are short of literate people as it is to ask someone to meet with an embassy employee as part of the new voluntary rendition programme.

  15. dialing_wand says:

    I no longer fly through the US and will pay extra to avoid it. In fact, combining the sad state of the US carriers and the TSA makes for an extra nasty voyage. As a Canadian flights to anywhere in the world have typically involved US routed voyages but I will go to any length to avoid what has become “just another regime.”

    That being said, our own implementation of the international (read US-driven) no-fly list is just as inexcusable, and being screened by Airline personnel in international departure lounges can only be explained by our Bush-wannabe prime minister.

  16. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Jozef:

    The reason they ask this is to facilitate deportation. They always used to ask “are you planning on supporting yourself through prostitution?” If you did, they didn’t need to go through a deportation b/c of a crime proceeding, they could go through the much simpler and straightforward “deportation due to a lie on the visa application proceeding.”

  17. dazette says:

    My friend’s mother has a very common name, both first and last. Probably a few thousand more females have the identical name in just the state alone. Lord knows how many there are with this name across the entire USA. The woman is 86 years old and gets stopped every time she tries to get on a plane to visit her son because someone with her name is on the no fly list. I think the birth date in TSA’s records might help prevent confusion for her and speed the trips of all people who happen to have common names. Why is this so terrible?

  18. Freedomboy says:

    Coming soon – anal printing, match the scan to the can.

    Kinda like the idea of showing of the can part.

    Wink and you are busted.

  19. Freedomboy says:

    PS solves that gender question too!

  20. stopNgoBeau says:

    @Freedomboy: Is that similar to the colonic map – a la Futurama?

  21. Freedomboy says:

    Just wait and see when the gloves come out.

  22. LisaLives says:

    Well this might help clear up a few things for the female TSA agent I encountered at LAX lately, who I observed addressing several women (and they were obviously women) as “Sir” as they passed through security.

  23. silvanx says:

    @dazette: You’re right. innocent people end up on the no-fly list simply because they happen to share a name with a terror suspect, fugitive, etc.

    Now, whether TSA can be trusted with additional information is another matter.

  24. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I see where they are going, seems invasive but if it keeps little billy from being tagged as a terrorist and forced to sleep in an airport with his teddy bear over night while they figure out he’s not an international terrorist, well then its better than nothing.

    But I also see where TSA is a joke. I got held up in an airport security line because the screener thought my belt buckle in my carry on bag was some sort of bomb. They had to stop the line, hold me up and rifle through my bag and then pushed it aside and told me to move along.

    Lame!

    Right after the 9/11 thing when the national guard was stationed at LAX, TSA screeners pulled me aside to wand me, which is fine, and when they told me to turn around, I had a guy with a rifle pointed at me. WTF is that about? They cleared me then had to check my back pack. They couldn’t figure out what the pouch that said GameBoy and had a GameBoy that said GameBoy on it was. Then they started asking me about my headphones… It just goes on.

    Its getting better to just drive now, or take a train. It takes longer but at least your not considered an evil bastard terrorist bent on world destruction in your own country with your game boy and bottle of hand sanitizer on a train like you are on a plane.

  25. Hamm Beerger says:

    The most bizarre thing about all this… you can get on a plane without any ID at all. Just tell them you have no ID; they’ll ask for a credit card, say your wallet was stolen; then they’ll mark you for extra security scrutiny, so they pat you down and rummage through your carry-on.

    Then you’re on the plane, even if you’re a terrorist or have the same name as a terrorist. And you didn’t have to tell anyone your age.

  26. shadowsurfr1 says:

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. There’s no reason for me to hide my gender. If my name’s in print on the screen, or I’m standing in front of the employee checking me in, it’s going to be obvious, as it would be for most people.

    On the topic of the birth date, I can agree with that one, too. I remember reading an article, I think it was on here, about how a mother who was flying with her child, who was very young, was told that her child wouldn’t be able to board the flight. When asked why, the person behind the counter responded that the child’s name had match someone on the government’s watch list. Understandably, the mother was dumbfounded since her child wasn’t even 2 years old. This kind of problem would be avoided by the second piece of information.

    I really don’t have a problem with this, but I don’t have anything to hide, either.

  27. pezhore says:

    @shadowsurfr1:

    “I don’t have anything to hide” is a terrible justification. Just because you don’t have anything to hide doesn’t give a governing authority the right to invade your privacy. There’s a great paper written on the subject [papers.ssrn.com] – I strongly encourage you to read it.

    As far as requiring birth dates for booking a flight – it is just plain stupid. What does the TSA plan on using to mitigate liars? Use a driver’s license? Any college student knows that its incredibly easy to get a fake ID. Even a mildly intelligent terrorist could easily use that ID to get on board of a plane – I somehow doubt that the TSA agent who checks my ID/boarding pass has been trained to Spot a forged Driver’s license. In the end all it does is allows the government to dive deeper into our private lives under the guise of “security”. I feel that nearly every step in the airport security check process is useless.

    If a terrorist wants to violate current rules, they’ll find a way. Instead of looking backwards and following CYA security, the TSA needs to be looking forward to the next major terrorist threat (which for my money probably won’t be airlines, no thanks to the TSA).

  28. FLConsumer says:

    Okay, so I feed them bullshit info, go down to the darker part of town and get a fake driver’s license to match the data I gave. How is this helping anything?

  29. Valhawk says:

    Hey, TSA if you care that much about my name and birthdate get on the line to the Social Security Administration they already have it.

    Stupid large government is too stupid to talk to itself.

  30. snowmentality says:

    Quellman, I know you’re trying to make a joke, but it’s a pretty unfunny joke to people who are transgendered. Because of the patchwork of gender-change laws, a transwoman’s driver’s license may say F, but her passport still say M. If she says she’s female — which is the gender she identifies and presents as — OR if she says she’s male, to match her pasport, she runs the risk not only of being frisked or arrested, but also attacked or abused, either by other passengers or by the TSA agents themselves.

  31. dirk1965 says:

    I guess the time is coming when I’m going to have to whip out my penis to prove that I’m a man! The TSA is such a useless group of morons and a waste of our taxes.

  32. FLConsumer says:

    I’m still serious about this — how do we get rid of the TSA? I’m all for having REAL security, but the TSA is practically the exact opposite. I’d much rather see a security force with far fewer employees, but well-trained and well-paid employees — true security professionals. I bet it’d end up costing less to implement something like this in the long-run as well. I’d write to my local representatives, but that won’t have much of an impact. To remove the TSA would to be admitting that the TSA is a failure, and they’d rather let it remain in place, as a failure, than having to admit it.